Best Practice Marathon

By David McMahon


I’ve just returned from directing four performance groups in the last five weeks.  With my co-facilitator, Wayne McMahon, we traveled over 40,000 miles bringing together some of the best minds in Home Furnishings Retail.  There were over 80 business leaders that attended our three day camps.   The meetings were packed full of sharing best practices, top challenges and solutions, touring operations, comparing key performance indicators, networking, and of course, having fun.  Here is a brief reflection on the meetings of our performance groups:

“The Gladiators” – Bethany Beach, DE, Sept 26-29, 2017


Our Gladiator performance group has some of the most business motivated retailers I’ve encountered. Its members make up 10 multi-location Ashley HomeStore organizations across the US.  In our 4th meeting since the group’s inception, we visited the Barnes Group in Delmar Delaware.  We started with an operation tour focusing on the ‘million dollar writer’ mindset, leadership team Q&A and Tech Talk.  We conducted a market analysis and did a SWOT review (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats).  The best practices members shared were exceptional, with my personal favorite being Paige Streiff’s dynamic presentation on maximizing protection sales.  At the final dinner we enjoyed a group meal by the water at Seacrets.

“Kaizen” – Johnstown, NY, Oct 3-6, 2017

Our Kaizen performance group contains great business leaders from a wide geographical area, stretching from Aruba to Alaska and the Atlantic coast to the Pacific.  Kaizen means change for the better.  This group fits within this definition perfectly.  Its members are the first to spot new techniques and implement new tools to drive their businesses. This bunch is not the type that sits and waits for things to happen – they make things happen.  In this meeting we visited long-time member Ruby and Quiri, Inc.’s furniture, mattress, appliance and flooring as well as their new Ashley HomeStore.  They carry probably the broadest range of product categories and vendors of any of the members in all of our groups.  The best practice that sticks out most in my mind was brought about by group member The Austin Couch Potatoes.  They showed us how to transition from traditional media spend to digital, drop the advertising budget and grow traffic and sales volume.  We capped off our 3-day performance meeting at a member’s only restaurant, fittingly called The Eccentric Club.

“TopLine” – Medford, OR, Oct 9-12, 2017reccomendations

Our TopLine performance group is for Sales Managers and GMs.  It is our newest group and has a more operational flair than our owners groups.  TopLine members focus on the execution of strategy.  Here the leaders improve their abilities to build the sales volumes and gross margins of the companies they represent.  In our second meeting of 2017 we visited Garrison’s Furniture and Mattress.  Garrison’s is also a member of our Kaizen group.  The managers toured four retail locations plus the Distribution Center and reviewed selling systems for furniture and mattresses.  We also discussed solutions to top challenges such as finding, training and maintaining quality sales people.  My favorite best practice in this meeting was brought by Bill of Home Trends in central Nebraska. He explained a local business networking program that added benefit incentives to employees of various local companies, leading to increased traffic for his store.  We ended our last dinner at a great local steakhouse and discovered just how many people could fit inside of one hotel courtesy shuttle.  This is turning into a powerful, fun and tight group.

“Visionaries” – Morehead City, NC, Oct 24-27

Our final meeting of the year was with our Visionary performance group.  Visionaries is our longest running group. Its 12 strong company members tend to be the most ‘room design’ focused of our furniture retail groups.  There’s an interesting mix in this group, with most of the businesses being involved in next-generational partnerships and the ratio of male to female talent being about as equal as I’ve ever seen. For this meeting we met at McQueen’s Interiors.  We focused on a single theme: improving the room design process.  This is Dana McQueen’s specialty as well as her designer’s.  We participated in case studies led by the McQueen Team and saw how her designers turned client’s dreams into reality.  The most memorable best practice to me was brought by Laura and Greg Crowley where they unveiled a project that defined exactly what was involved with becoming a top writer in their business culture.  The Visionary group ended another successful meeting at Parrott’s, a wonderful seafood restaurant. Wait – there was one more stop, back at Dana’s Father’s spot, The Promise Land.   Some of the best ideas and networking happen out of the meeting rooms, after hours!


Our performance groups have been successfully operating for many years.  They meet twice per year in a different location for 2.5 days (three evenings).  If you are interested in applying, please send me an email.  We currently have openings for a few members in our TopLine group.  The minimum criteria for acceptance into any of our groups is Commitment – to improving your business, to helping fellow group members improve their, to attending meetings, to adding value, to implementing the value received from others, and to fitting in and enjoying.

David McMahon, CSCP, CMA, EA is VP of consulting and performance group at PROFITsystems, a HighJump Company.  He holds the postgraduate credentials of Certified Supply Chain Professional and Certified Management Accountant.  David directs 4 performance groups, the Kaizen, Visionary, Gladiator, & TopLine groups as well as multiple consulting projects.  He can be reached at


By Lee Rychel

Some years ago, a client in Alabama was looking for a CFO.  We contacted a recruiter and laid out the job requirements, and they found a gentleman who was superbly qualified living in Florida.  After some discussion he agreed to move to Alabama and take the position.  He worked out very well for this client.  Another time we had a client looking for someone in the Chicago area and found someone in Colorado.  In both cases, there was a true comfort level on the part of the applicant in moving.  One wanted to get out of Florida and the other was actually from Chicago and had been transferred away.


The point learned was profound.  Seeking qualified applicants from a local pool is often short sighted.  With this highly mobile economy, it is not at all uncommon for folks to be looking at areas far from where they live and work, and this includes smaller markets.  The movement to raise children in smaller towns with the ‘old school’ feel of security and higher quality school districts is often an important factor for applicants with young families.On the other end of the spectrum, there are those who simply wish to leave their current location for somewhere new and exotic.

And don’t forget your customers.  One interior designer I hired years ago was the wife of a heart surgeon.  Did she need to work? Probably not.  But she was an excellent customer and had joked with the staff “I would love working here.”  We had a discussion about her getting some formal training.  She went out and got an associate’s degree in interior design and I did hire her.  She was an excellent designer who also brought a huge number of friends into our store to shop as well.

Hiring Tips, Tricks and Tools 

Using a recruiter will often speed up the hiring process immensely. With good information about the job requirements, recruiters can scour their resources for the right applicants. Not using a recruiter?  You can still advertise across a number of different mediums to put your offering in front of a substantial audience to find the people you’re looking for.  Keep in mind that while effective, this kind of advertising can also lead to an avalanche of applications, so be ready to thin the herd with pointed, open-ended questions right off the bat.

hero-image-18One thing almost every hiring manager has learned is that references are rarely much help.  Previous employers tend to be reluctant to share information due to the unknowns involved with sharing too much and facing any number of unforeseen consequences as a result. This has given birth to a “less is more” mentality among reference, with nine out of 10 answering questions with either vague or watered down responses.

In personal interviews, I’ve found one question to provide much richer insight to an applicant’s goals compared to others. Sitting across from them, I’ll say: “if we were to forget that you’re sitting here in our furniture store right now and I could grant you one wish to be working in your dream job, what would you choose?” I just let them talk, and the answers are frequently a huge surprise. Given this freedom, candidates sell me on themselves – not the role they’re interviewing for – because their answer tells me the kind of job they’re best suited for.  For example, if a sales candidate were to say that they love working alone and getting through their daily tasks without being pestered, this would obviously be a poor fit for a sales role but a perfect fit for an office position. Let the candidate take you through their view of the world and from that you will have a better feel for where and how they could fit into your company.

Good luck in your searches, and don’t be afraid to cast a larger net.

Six New Home Goods Retailers Select RETAILvantage and Join the PROFITsystems Family!

PROFITsystems is so excited to announce six new additions to our family of home goods retailers! Read on to hear about their stores and why they selected RETAILvantage as their retail management system.

PROFITsystems new home goods retail client

McKay’s Furniture  

McKay’s Furniture of North Kingstown, Rhode Island came to PROFITsystems concerned with the accuracy of their inventory data and quality of their current CRM. In order togrow, they knew they needed a system that addressed these concerns and worked to facilitate their success rather than hinder it. Thanks to the robust suite of features provided by RETAILvantage in the areas of inventory management, reporting and CRM, McKay’s felt compelled to make the switch. We’re so excited to help them reach their goals and look forward to the many successful years to come!

PROFITsystems new home goods retail client

Furniture Palace

Furniture Palace, located on the island of Curaçao, was in need of a new retail management system to support their growing business needs. The owners were thorough in their search for a new solution and very selective as they narrowed down their options. They knew they would become stagnant without the features and capabilities required for continued growth and prosperity, and that’s why Furniture Palace chose RETAILvantage. We are so excited they put their trust in PROFITsystems, and can’t wait to show them why they made the right decision!

PROFITsystems new home goods retail client

Sleep Etc.

Sleep Etc. of Norwalk, CT took their time shopping for a new retail management system and looked at many different providers throughout the process. As a two-store mattress operation with a high volume of custom orders, the decision makers at Sleep Etc. quickly saw how equipped RETAILvantage was to handle their specific set of needs. Ultimately, the unparalleled features and capabilities of our software coupled with our quick response times and transparency throughout the decision making process resulted in Sleep Etc. choosing PROFITsystems as the best fit for their store. Welcome to the family!

PROFITsystems home goods retail client

DeMeyer Furniture

From facing constant errors in their accounting system to their increasingly strained ability to track inventory, the owners of DeMeyer Furniture were realizing their current system was no longer sufficient. Based in Meridian, Idaho, DeMeyer set out to look for a more robust solution able to keep pace with the company’s growth and handle their expanding needs. After looking at various systems, they determined the best partner for their continued success was PROFITsystems. We’re so excited to have added them to the PROFITsystems family and look forward to facilitating their growth for years to come!

PROFITsystems new home goods retail client

Jenner’s Home Furnishings

Jenner’s Home Furnishings of Fort Mohave, Arizona was working to quickly grow their company and looking for a solution that would allow them to seamlessly integrate additional store locations. They decided RETAILvantage fit the various needs of their expanding operation, and we couldn’t be more excited to have them.

PROFITsystems new home goods retail client

Furniture Superstore

Like many other retailers that switch to RETAILvantage, Furniture Superstore of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was growing at a faster rate than their current system could seemingly handle. At the recommendation of Virginia Home Furnishings, another PROFITsystems customer, they contacted us for assistance. The owners of Furniture Superstore fell in love with RETAILvantage after several extended demonstrations, and with ease of use and overall commitment of our company to their success, they were sold.

Cheers to our newest additions and the exciting years ahead! We look forward to working with these fantastic retailers to increase their profitability!

TopLine Performance Group Inaugural Meeting: A Recap

PROFITsystems performance groups meet to increase profitability


Last month, 20 retail sales professionals met in Peoria, Illinois, with a focus on improving sales volume. The inaugural TopLine Performance Group meeting went off without a hitch, and I am pleased to report that all who attended left equipped with the tips and best practices necessary for improvement.

The meeting began with a tour of Sherman’s Furniture, Electronics, and Appliance operations, where Sherman’s store managers did a great job of showing the group how they manage such a high-paced sales floor while still delivering excellent customer service.

Performance group members participated in best-practice discussions covering a wide range of topics, each giving and receiving actionable tips for marked improvement.  Some of the practices shared included techniques to improve customer tracking, and tips on how to increase average bedding sales, close rates and store traffic. Members also compared key sales performance indicators, digging deeper into how certain members achieved exceptional results while offering advice to those who did not.

Each group member was also asked to bring their most pressing sales management challenge to the meeting for discussion. With the combined experience of the retailers in the room, the power of the advice shared was astronomical. Each member received top-tier recommendations from peers on how to best solve their particular challenge, and all ended the discussion equipped to then conquer that challenge thanks to the wide range of insights shared from so many varying perspectives.

Finally, each member presented goals for improvement that they planned to work towards once the meeting adjourned. This made every retailer in attendance accountable to both their TopLine Performance Group peers and to their own businesses. In the next meeting at Garrison’s Furniture and Mattress in Medford, Oregon, members will be asked to report on their progress and discuss where they are in achieving these goals.

To learn more about the performance groups we run and inquire about getting involved, please contact me at david.mcmahon@highjump.comIf you’re still on the fence about joining, here are some comments from current group members to encourage you to take the leap:

“Amazing experience. The group knowledge is overwhelming; can’t wait to do it again!”

-          Joe Alvarado

 “It was great. I have a lot of takeaways, met a lot of great people and had fun!”

-          Chris Baca

“The group participation was great. This helped in getting new ideas and feedback for our business plans.”

-          Brad Lutz

“It’s so informative to hear perspectives from other businesses.  There are so many great ideas and we love the format that David McMahon and Wayne McMahon put together.  We are very glad they came up with this group meeting for sales managers.”

-          Tony Hnilicka

“Everything was well put together and the information was shared freely.  I enjoyed it and learned a tremendous amount.”

-          Jason Honeycutt

“I’d say that compared to an owner’s group meeting, we got more improvement ideas that were more specific and concrete.  This was more operational stuff, and that makes sense as we all had our managers there who are in the thick of the day-to-day work.  We’ll be sending our sales manager to the Topline performance group meetings and I’ll continue to attend the owner’s meetings.  Both incredibly valuable, in slightly different ways.”

-          Paul Sherman

David McMahon, CSCP, CMA, EA is VP of consulting and performance group at PROFITsystems, a HighJump Company. He holds professional certifications as a Certified Supply Chain Professional and is a Certified Management Accountant. David directs four performance groups (the Kaizen, Visionary, Gladiator and TopLine groups) and multiple consulting projects.  He can be reached at  

Purchase Advice vs. Auto Inventory Replenishment

By Lee Rychel

Purchase advice how to restock inventory

Since the beginning of time, merchants have struggled with knowing how to keep best-sellers in stock while minimizing the amount of slow-movers on the floor. These issues are directly related and are often addressed with a Min/Max model. This model (also called Par Stock) is used by retailers in an effort to constantly maintain the healthy levels of inventory they think they need.

The main challenge with the Min/Max approach is that it’s often more subjective than objective.  It’s nearly impossible to accurately track the rate of sale for hundreds of items manually. We get too excited about an item that sold quickly, overbuy as a result, and then end up over-stocked once that item loses popularity

As a traveling consultant who has worked with more than 150 retailers, I’ve seen dozens of iterations of spreadsheets and software aimed at helping buyers control hundreds of inventory items. Each instance was a massive undertaking and still fraught with a healthy dose of subjectivity. Additionally, these systems only tracked the top performers- but what about the 80% of the inventory that is NOT performing?  How long do you keep those dogs around before making the decision to move them off the floor?  Moving them out of stock means freeing up money for new intros, but we typically wait too long to make that call.

One of the greatest developments in building out the PROFITsystems retail management system was the development of the Purchase Advice Report.  This tool works together with our software’s Calculate Ranking routine to give the buyer a truly accurate look at what’s really happening within their inventory.  The work the software does to give a sound recommendation far surpasses the information provided by a spreadsheet. The calculations factor in a number of things that are important when making a recommendation, including:

  • Rate of Sale (trends)

- How many items were sold during each of the last six months, weighting the most recent period more heavily

- Biannual trend comparisons

- Last six months vs. last 12 months, with the ability to identify new items that take off immediately

- Information on down-trending items

  • Lead Time (how long it takes for items to come in)

- By using the invoice date and the receiving date, and averaging the last six receivings, you have a very accurate picture of the amount of time it actually takes for items to come in

  • Item profitability

- Using the GMROI for each item, you can determine if an item is profitable and worth stocking

  • Item Popularity

- The Calculate Ranking routine scores your inventory and displays all your information on one report so you can readily see if which items are best-sellers

  • Location Information

- Determine whether an item is on the floor, damaged or nailed down using this report

  • Stock Levels

- Use the Purchase Advice Report to track how many days an item is in or out of stock, and paint a more accurate picture of its true rate of sale

- The Purchase Advice Report looks at all inventory, taking into account reserved from stock, on-order items, and open PO (purchase order) quantities, including available inbound stock and reserved items on those open POs

  • Recommended Order Quantity

- This is the core of the Purchase Advice Report algorithm result. Based on all of the variables noted above the system makes a recommendation to buy or not to buy.

  • Overbought Stock

- The Purchase Advice Report not only gives buying recommendations, but it also displays items with negative buy recommendations, which typically mean you’re overstocked.

  • Creating the PO

- Running the report can also create the PO for the buyer to review, avoiding manually entering those items onto a stock PO.

Ever wonder how some businesses grow and stay healthy while other similar businesses struggle? Let’s take a look at how implementing these tools would impact two very typical stores.

Retailer A:

  • A $2M business with 2.5 turns of inventory at a 45% Gross Margin (GM) will typically have $440,000 of inventory on hand.
  • A $2M business with 4 turns of inventory at a 45% GM will typically have $275,000 of inventory on hand.

For the $2M business, we can free up over $165,000 of cash for every year we are able to sustain 4 turns.

Retailer B:

  • A $8M business with 2.5 turns of inventory at a 45% GM will typically have $1,760,000 of inventory
  • A $8M business with 4 turns of inventory at a 45% GM will typically have $1,100,000 of inventory on hand.

For the $8M business, we can free up over $660,000 of cash for every year are able to sustain 4 turns.

These results will occur with no increase in advertising, and at the same level of sales- and it gets better.  Reducing those dogs and keeping the winners in stock has another benefit: old inventory typically costs 30% of COGS to manage, move, wrestle, repair and fuss with before it’s sold.

In our first example above, let’s take 30% cost against half of that inventory, that’s likely not performing ($220,000).  This means there is potentially another $66,000 leaking out of your checkbook every year.  These costs and lost cash flow don’t show up on the P&L, however they do truly exist by simply buying smarter, the benefits are incredible.

For members of our performance groups, reviewing the Purchase Advice Report regularly is as important as knowing how much cash they have in the bank.  Clients who live by the Purchase Advice Report have inventory levels that make sense, as well as a much higher level of best-sellers in stock than retailers who are trying to do this by hand. Their GMROI is higher and their cash flow is much stronger, and many of our clients see major increases in turns and profitability. By only increasing the amount of turns in the average furniture store, many will see a dramatic impact on the financial health of their business.

PROFITsystems Partners with Podium, Offers Customers Special Pricing

PROFITsystems clients gain extra pricing perks with Podium to increase their store traffic through positive online reviews


COLORADO SPRINGS, CO (May 9, 2017) – PROFITsystems, a HighJump product and leading provider of solutions for home furnishings retailers, today announced a new partnership with Podium, offering a special rate for Podium services to PROFITsystems clients. Home furnishings retailers currently associated with PROFITsystems gain discounts and benefits in their access to Podium’s online review management software, which is designed to help retailers increase in store foot traffic with positive online reviews.

“By partnering with Podium, we’ve given our clients the opportunity to increase their in-store traffic by increasing their positive online reviews” said PROFITsystems General Manager, Joanne Gulnac. “We’ve negotiated a discounted rate on Podium’s software specifically for PROFITsystems customers, and those who have seized this opportunity are already reporting an uptick in store traffic. We’re always looking for more ways to help customers become more competitive and profitable, and we’re excited to work with Podium to help our retailers achieve the results they’re looking for!”

A leading provider of online review management software, Podium enables businesses to collect valuable feedback from customers in real time. Podium’s efficient mobile process makes it possible for businesses to collect hundreds of reviews on sites like Google, Facebook and the like, giving them full visibility into consumer wants and needs. This visibility empowers retailers to tweak their customer experience per the feedback received, ultimately increasing foot traffic and profitability as a result.

“As part of our partnership with PROFITsystems, we’re excited to help their clients increase foot traffic to their stores by offering them preferred pricing on our software” said Podium Strategic Accounts Manager, Chris Allen. “We encourage all of them to take advantage of the full Podium experience at this special discounted rate.”

About Podium

Podium is a leading provider of online review management software that enables businesses to collect valuable feedback from customers in real time. Podium’s efficient mobile process makes it possible for businesses to collect 100s of reviews on sites like Google, Facebook, and many more.

For additional information on Podium, please visit their website at

About PROFITsystems, a HighJump product

PROFITsystems is a complete retail management solution for the modern home goods retailer. Key components include enterprise software, consulting, performance groups, advanced education, eCommerce integration and business intelligence. PROFITsystems features real-time inventory management, customer relations management, point-of-sale and accounting systems.

For additional information on PROFITsystems, please visit the website at

About HighJump

In almost every industry, buyers are becoming more fickle, and more demanding. For logistics executives, effectively meeting buyer needs has become a relentless quest for speed and agility. Traditional supply chain solutions – siloed, complex and hard-to-implement – no longer suffice, as competitors find ways to deliver goods faster and more profitably.

In today’s “now” economy, HighJump helps you stay agile, with adaptable, connected solutions that harness the power of your trading partner community. From the warehouse to the storefront, from the desktop to the driver’s cab, we can help you achieve new levels of supply chain responsiveness, performance and profitability.

HighJump’s suite of warehouse management, business integration, transportation management and retail/DSD solutions form a complete, powerful and adaptable platform that allow you to drive growth, customer satisfaction and revenue. HighJump: supply chain accelerated.

For more information, visit


Media Contact 
Guadalupe Pagalday
1-800-328-3271 x2705

PROFITsystems Launches Sales Performance Group for Home Furnishings Retailers

Industry experts will work with sales leaders and managers to increase store sales volume and gross margins

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (April 26, 2017) – PROFITsystems, a HighJump product and leading provider of solutions for home furnishings retailers, today announced it is launching a performance group focused on retail sales volume and margin growth called PROFITsystems TopLine Sales Performance Group. Home furnishings retail sales leaders and managers in member organizations will come together twice a year to share best practices and collaborate on growth strategies under the guidance of industry experts and consultants David McMahon and Wayne McMahon.

“We are extremely excited about this new performance group,” said Paul Sherman, owner of Sherman’s and charter member of the PROFITsystems TopLine Sales Performance Group.  “It will allow our sales managers and leaders to work with peers from around the country to maximize our sales. Even small improvements in this area of a business can have exponential results, which we’ve seen firsthand through our participation in the PROFITsystems owner’s performance group. Transformative changes happen when you get outside your four walls and engage with like-minded people.”

Performance groups meet twice a year, usually at a different member location. Participants tour a member’s operations, propose best practices, discuss challenges and opportunities, compare key performance metrics, and set and report on goals that push their businesses forward. The inaugural PROFITsystems TopLine Sales Performance Group meeting will be hosted at Sherman’s in Peoria, Ill., from May 30-June 2.

“When you get 20 committed, smart, motivated people in the same room, magic is created,” said David McMahon, vice president of consulting and performance groups, PROFITsystems. “In directing these groups for many years with Wayne, we have seen some spectacular results,” “Our groups contain some of the most innovative people and profitable businesses that we have encountered in the industry. Together, we will ensure this new performance group is a huge success.”

Applications are being considered for the new performance group at this time. All home furnishings retailers are welcome to apply. Considerations for acceptance include business profile and goals. For more information, email David McMahon at

About PROFITsystems, a HighJump product

PROFITsystems is a complete retail management solution for the modern home goods retailer. Key components include enterprise software, consulting, performance groups, advanced education, eCommerce integration and business intelligence. PROFITsystems features real-time inventory management, customer relations management, point-of-sale and accounting systems.

For additional information on PROFITsystems, please visit the website at


Media Contact 
Guadalupe Pagalday
1-800-328-3271 x2705

Solutions Sound-Off: Industry Peers Present Solutions for Dealing with the Challenge of Communication

On Day 2 of Elevate 2017, David and Wayne McMahon conducted an open forum session on “Challenges and Opportunities.” They kicked it off by asking attendees to sound off on the biggest challenges they faced within their retail operation. Once they selected a challenge, the entire audience worked together with David and Wayne to help provide a solution to that obstacle, often sharing their own best practices and tools on how they deal with things in their own store.

Of all the challenges discussed during this session, Darcy of Walker’s Furniture brought up an issue that much of the audience could relate to: communication. It’s a broad issue, one that runs deeper than the surface level, and it was covered in detail by David, Wayne and other members of the audience. Here’s a recap of the valuable discussion on how other retailers tackle communication in their stores:

Darcy, Walker’s Furniture: “I would say that one of our major challenges is the communication of procedures, ideas or concerns between 16 locations. I want to figure out what it is that we can do or say from the administrative side to help our sales people and managers understand that it’s OK to give us feedback and communicate openly; that we won’t use their feedback against them negatively.” 

David then asked the audience who else faced the same issue with communication in their own store. He then inquired who felt they had a positive culture of communication, and what systems they had in place to create that environment.

A representative from Weinberger’s Furniture was the first to respond.

Karly, Weinberger’s Furniture:We started doing a 30-to-45 minute call once a week between all of the managers and myself. We essentially spend the entire meeting touching base and talking about what’s happening at each store, if anyone has any major issues, what if any major sales are coming up, and just get everyone on the same page. It has helped a lot with streamlining communication and has also worked as an outlet for any questions needing immediate answers.”

Wayne: “I believe that communication and feedback is a multi-level issue. For example, if you have 15 locations, do each of your respective managers and leaders hold daily pre-shift meetings? If the answer is no, then that needs to be put into place, and your regional managers need to be the enforcers making sure these meetings are actually taking place. What about your general managers? Do they hold regular meetings with sales managers? Regular touchpoints between key players such as your managers, CEO, controllers and the like are crucial to ensuring that all important information is received by everyone, the necessary feedback is given and the lines of communication always remain open and fluid.”

David: “Not everyone is able to have that multi-level structure in their business, but I’ll tell you about a practice we’ve seen businesses of all sizes try out and succeed with, and that’s the practice of one-to-one. Whether you’re a $3 million operation or a $50 million operation, the practice of one-to-one works for businesses of all shapes and sizes. It was first tested out through one of our Kaizen Performance Groups, and we then brought it out to Sherman’s Furniture, where they’ve seen huge improvement since implementing it. The practice of one-to-one is essentially the practice of every person in your business meeting with their manager once per month to have a conversation about progress, obstacles and the general state of affairs. It’s a very simple, casual meeting, it’s documented and questions “How do you think we’re doing” or “Do you see anything we can do better?” if the employee is facing any issues that would also be documented during this meeting and then next steps would be discussed and outlined. Just a simple conversation like that to open up the lines of communication works wonders, and while it feels like a lot of people talking to each other at first, Paul of Sherman’s Furniture can’t say enough how transformative the one-to-one initiative has been for his business.”

As a few other audience members offered their own suggestions. One PROFITsystems customer suggested a podcast called Manager Tools, an educational series hosted by two men from West Point focusing solely on one-to-ones. She said the content shared has been extremely helpful for her business, and she recommends it to any manager looking for strategies to improve.

Another customer spoke about conducting a daily call with this entire operation. Every morning, everyone hops on at 9 a.m., kicking off the call with “good news” to acknowledge everything that’s going well. Following good news is challenges, when each person has the opportunity to voice not just the obstacles they’re facing that day, but what they need from management to overcome them. The call lasts no more than 15 minutes and has proven to be extremely effective in keeping the daily operations of his store running smoothly and efficiently.

David closed out this detailed discussion surrounding the challenge of communication by reinforcing how crucial it is to implement and adhere to a system that works for your store. It’s about constant contact, touchpoints and actually getting in front of employees and managers. Holding the necessary meetings between the necessary people often and in-person is the best way to communicate effectively, and that’s how you keep your operation, and everyone in it, organized, effective and profitable.

Tips and Practices from the Field – Prime!

By David McMahon

I’m sure you all know how the biggest and fastest-growing retailer in the universe, Amazon, generates recurring revenue from its customers, right? Amazon Prime. I bet at least half you reading this right now are Amazon Prime members. Yes, we Prime members are amongst Amazon’s best retail customers, and for that we get priority shipping, free books and on-demand videos and music. It’s easy – and it’s free.

Wait … it’s not free. But it is worth every penny.

So, why can’t other retailers offer a Prime service of their own? Actually, they can – and they are as the Prime membership model grows in popularity. Retailers of every kind are beginning to offer the same type of services provided by Amazon, and you can too. Here are a few ideas to help you get those mental juices stirring:

  • Come up with a polished, annual (12-month) subscription called: *Your Name Here* PRIME
  • Decide on exactly what your Prime program will offer members (unlimited deliveries, two sofa or bed pillows per year with purchase, buy one, get one 50% off card)
  • Decide on your 12-month subscription rate (ex: if deliveries are normally $99, charge $250)
  • Add the program into your selling system and train sales people on how to properly present and sell it

As you can see, this is mostly a play on increasing delivery fees, right? Well, not really – it is actually much more than that. I’m sure you’re sitting there reading this thinking to yourself, “Who in their right mind would pay $250 for delivery when they could pay $99?”

You might be surprised.

In reality, this is actually a loyalty program in disguise. Say someone is furnishing their whole house or thinking of doing a project in phases – this type of Prime membership would be a perfect fit, and the best part about it is that people pay to join, which means they’re serious.

People shop around, and if they’re looking at you, you can bet they’re also looking at your competitors. Give customers an extra reason to come back and shop with you first by offering them benefits they can’t resist. Be creative – come up with a Prime program of your own and start rewarding your loyal customers, both past and present.

David McMahon, is VP of Consulting and Performance Groups at HighJump. He works in the field improving all aspects of businesses like yours through consulting, speaking and performance group engagements. He can be reached at

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